Thwarting Social Media Censorship by the Power of Open Source

Femida, Goddess of Justice with scales, sword and white robe.

The liberty movement is fed up with YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and search engines such as Google using algorithms to create “echo chambers” for like-minded people, while squelching the dissenting voices. Shadow banning, termination from the platform, and unfavorable rankings is causing truth-seekers and grassroots liberty advocates frustration to the point of ditching their accounts. However, some “patriots” are calling for government intervention to render these tech giants public utilities (like phone companies). The intent is to restrict the showing of bias and favoritism toward leftist views. Nonetheless, this mistake undermines both constitutional law and principle. Rather, the solution is to boycott private left-leaning entities that silence voices by cultivating Internet communities based on privately-owned websites using open source software.

What is Happening to Dissenting Voices on Social Media?

Those with controversial views who boldly speak their mind on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. are being censored through “take-down” actions, shadow banning, or termination from the platform entirely (after repeated violations of the terms of service). This cyber police state has instilled fear in many libertarians and conservatives because they fret whether to even post something online which they passionately care about, worrying that it will be reported, thus red flagging their account.

Virtual Prison Cells for Those with Controversial Views

I have experienced this punishment firsthand. When I started speaking out on the Internet in 2012 upon resigning my commission from the Marine Corps, the climate was not as heated and authoritarian as it is today. I posted straight to Facebook or shared articles I wrote from my website.

However, in 2015 when one of my Facebook posts went viral my public awareness grew strong. Eventually, whenever I said something inflammatory that criticized radical Islam or some social justice construct rooted in Marxism, I was often flagged with my content removed followed by a three, seven or thirty-day ban from posting.

Facebook corporate headquarters sign at 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, California 94025.
Facebook corporate headquarters sign at 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park, California 94025.

This censorship is frustrating to say the least. Social media has become a virtual hub where people connect and interact on a regular basis. When Facebook (or any social media platform) cuts you off from connecting with friends by not letting you post anything for a given amount of time, your everyday social circle thinks you deserted them. Actually however, you are eager to express your thoughts by at least explaining what had happened—but you cannot because you were placed in a digital JAIL CELL.

The psychological effects of being censored or banned from posting on social media are detrimental to both mental and physical wellbeing. Though you can get over it by finding other ways to connect with those who share your views, when libertarians or conservatives go against the grain they are cornered and oppressed because virtually all tech giants are owned by radical leftists. However, it does not have to be this way. This last dilemma is where the power of open source intelligence (OSINT) comes in.

Regulating Big Tech Violates The Constitution

Libertarians who claim to support free-market capitalism and oppose government regulation are calling for tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google to become public utilities (like phone companies). Their reasoning to ensure those with controversial speech are not silenced. However, this is unconstitutional.

So long as these companies are privately owned, regulating them as if they belonged to the state is a form of fascism—even if it helps our Liberty Cause. Regulating communist or Marxist freedom of expression among Silicon Valley tech entities is just as much a violation of the First Amendment.

Even if all we want as freedom advocates is to ensure the unabridged speech rights of all Americans, we cannot do so if it requires limiting the social preferences of the free market. Part of the First Amendment’s freedom of expression pertains to the right to both associate and disassociate.

Private individuals have the right to interact or do business with whomever they choose at their free will. They also have the right to not do business or interact with certain companies or people. This freedom of association outlines the principle of free speech. The First Amendment infers protecting the free expression of people in order to remove government control on how to interact. Unfortunately, many ordinances and legislations unconstitutionally infringe on the full extent of the First Amendment.

Commerce is an example. If a baker does not want to serve a customer based on religious conviction, a state law may punish him for choosing to ‘disassociate.’ Thus concerning technology companies like Facebook and Google, they are private entities too who can choose their own community terms and conditions.

Though conservatives and so-called libertarians may disagree with defending Google’s right to alter their search results—if a problem exists that censors their content they should make their own search engine that respects everyone’s content. If one has a problem with Facebook deleting or censoring posts, then a libertarian entrepreneur should make a new social media company and market it to all. Entrepreneur Mike Adams is an example, who created Brighteon in retaliation to YouTube.

This victim mentality among the alt-right and much of the liberty movement is a weakness that needs repair. I absolutely support the freedom of speech because it safeguards a free society from state oppression. When the people can voice their concerns and express themselves unequivocally there is economic growth, higher education and liberty overall. However, when the government decides what speech is and is not allowed—their is tyranny.

Nonetheless, what should we do then if our cause is greatly suppressed by a monopoly of social media and tech giants favoring the left? The answer is to create our own websites and blog publishing platforms through open source, which we entirely control.

The Internet is still a free domain so long as we do not allow the government via the FCC to impose infringements through an act of Congress. Our sole goal as liberty advocates concerning free speech ought to be focused on preventing the GOVERNMENT from silencing our voice. Any regulation imposed by the state which limits the speech of private sector companies violates the First Amendment.

Therefore, the ball is in our court as far as protecting our speech and having a voice is concerned. We must take advantage of the freely available resources at our disposal, such as WordPress. Thus any privately owned website with a secure domain cannot be censored if the platform is not owned by a media company like Facebook.

Assembly Room in Independence Hall in Old City Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed in this room.
Assembly Room in Independence Hall in Old City Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed in this room.

Open Source Solutions to Internet Censorship

Although I advocate open source platforms with domains owned by the user as the primary method for Internet publishing, proprietary software platforms will work so long as the risk of censorship does not exist. This is unlikely though because most free-of-cost blogs that are hosted on third-party servers, like Blogger (owned by Google), are limited to the terms of that company.

“Proprietary” means that the software or CMS (content management system) is closed to public access, and that the source code is not readily available for modification. It can also represent companies like Google who own the blogging platform (i.e. Blogger), thus preventing the user from publishing content that violates the terms and conditions set by the entity. On the contrary, open source software respects community freedoms and aligns with libertarian values. Thus if the publishing platform is owned and controlled entirely by the user, it cannot be censored.

Having your own website, perhaps through WordPress, enables you to control your own content. You of course have the added responsibility of building and maintaining your site either by building it yourself, or hiring a web developer. The only caveat is that your hosting provider may have some restrictions. Though I have never seen a hosting provider with terms and conditions that restrict political speech, many have restrictions on pornography. However, there are vast numbers of hosting companies that will allow ‘anything’ to be hosting on their servers—so long as it does not violate government law. Hence, shop around and find a provider that works for you.

CALIFORNIA OPEN SOURCE AGENCY is Unregulated by Third Partes

This website is powered entirely by open source software. OpenSourceAgency.net is a WordPress site securely hosted on VPS (virtual private host). I have absolute control over what gets published here. I am thus not afraid of some corporate entity such as Facebook preventing me from posting an article or sharing what I really have to say.

Running your own website is a beautiful thing. YOU are in charge of the content displayed. Hence, as you learn web development and SEO your message can spread across the World Wide Web potentially reaching millions of people. This is the ultimate nightmare to any radical authoritarian who might want to place liberated people under the thumb of government control. We have the power to change the current problems and prevent future ones. It’s a matter of suppressing IGNORANCE and promoting education and free thought.

What is Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)?

Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) is the collection and examination of information from open (or overt) sources. As opposed to clandestine and proprietary data that requires permission from another, OSINT can be obtained from readily available means.

Moreover, OSINT is the concept that any publication or media whether online or not is easily accessible for public consumption. This can go a long way for both private and public sector organizations. Anyone can check sources or do research on a given topic by going to the library, reading the newspaper, watching a television program, or going online.

Background concept wordcloud illustration of open source intelligence (OSINT).
Background concept wordcloud illustration of open source intelligence (OSINT).

Concerning government, the CIA has employed OSINT projects to help collect information more effectively. When data is kept secret or classified too often, the free flow of facts and ideas are suppressed. Thus CALIFORNIA OPEN SOURCE AGENCY—this website and organization—is a citizen-based and intelligence agency that is entirely open to the public.

The U.S. Director of National Intelligence and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) define OSINT as “produced from publicly available information that is collected, exploited, and disseminated in a timely manner to an appropriate audience for the purpose of addressing a specific intelligence requirement.” Source

Political scientist Jeffrey T. Richelson states, “open source acquisition involves procuring, verbal, written, or electronically transmitted material that can be obtained legally. In addition to documents and videos available via the Internet or provided by a human source, others are obtained after U.S. or allied forces have taken control of a facility or site formerly operated by a foreign government or terrorist group.” Source

Furthermore, both government and private citizens have tremendous power through the acquisition of open source data. When information is obtained from open sources and then disseminated on a mass level, public opinion can change and the societal awareness as a whole can shift.

The Original Purpose of the Internet

The Internet was originally conceptualized to allow the free flow of thoughts, concepts and ideas to cultivate strong communication networks and spread education on the global scale. When free-spirited people interact and exchange ideas there is rapid social learning. This rise in the collective consciousness fosters economic growth because people are informed to make better decisions; in a nutshell, they are equipped with the power of knowledge.

Despite algorithms and mass censorship programs waged by Silicon Valley, the FCC, or other international bodies such as China or the E.U.—the World Wide Web (WWW) is still alive and well for We The People. Information that is at the disposal of those with a cellphone or Internet connection is powerful indeed, but only if utilized.

Computer with coffee mug and telephone on table during rising sun.
Computer with coffee mug and telephone on table during rising sun.

The GNU General Public License (GPL)

The WordPress Foundation offers the WordPress platform, a free and open-source content management system (CMS) build on PHP and MySQL. It can be downloaded immediately by anyone at no cost on WordPress.org. This “free” software is employed with GNU General Public License (GPL) which was created by Free Software Movement founder Richard Stallman. The GPL (“license”) is essentially a private contract between users who use and redistribute this software whose developer released with. In other words, building a CMS like WordPress with GNU allows users to see the source code, modify or redistribute copies of modified versions (even for profit) based on the terms of GPL. So, what exactly are these terms?

GNU Public License Terms and Conditions

Preamble

The GNU General Public License is a free, copyleft license for software and other kinds of works.

The licenses for most software and other practical works are designed to take away your freedom to share and change the works. By contrast, the GNU General Public License is intended to guarantee your freedom to share and change all versions of a program–to make sure it remains free software for all its users. We, the Free Software Foundation, use the GNU General Public License for most of our software; it applies also to any other work released this way by its authors. You can apply it to your programs, too.

When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price. Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for them if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it if you want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it in new free programs, and that you know you can do these things.

To protect your rights, we need to prevent others from denying you these rights or asking you to surrender the rights. Therefore, you have certain responsibilities if you distribute copies of the software, or if you modify it: responsibilities to respect the freedom of others.

For example, if you distribute copies of such a program, whether gratis or for a fee, you must pass on to the recipients the same freedoms that you received. You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their rights.

Developers that use the GNU GPL protect your rights with two steps: (1) assert copyright on the software, and (2) offer you this License giving you legal permission to copy, distribute and/or modify it.

For the developers’ and authors’ protection, the GPL clearly explains that there is no warranty for this free software. For both users’ and authors’ sake, the GPL requires that modified versions be marked as changed, so that their problems will not be attributed erroneously to authors of previous versions.

Some devices are designed to deny users access to install or run modified versions of the software inside them, although the manufacturer can do so. This is fundamentally incompatible with the aim of protecting users’ freedom to change the software. The systematic pattern of such abuse occurs in the area of products for individuals to use, which is precisely where it is most unacceptable.

Therefore, we have designed this version of the GPL to prohibit the practice for those products. If such problems arise substantially in other domains, we stand ready to extend this provision to those domains in future versions of the GPL, as needed to protect the freedom of users.

Finally, every program is threatened constantly by software patents. States should not allow patents to restrict development and use of software on general-purpose computers, but in those that do, we wish to avoid the special danger that patents applied to a free program could make it effectively proprietary. To prevent this, the GPL assures that patents cannot be used to render the program non-free.

The precise terms and conditions for copying, distribution and modification follow.

SOURCE: GNU General Public License | Version 3, 29 June 2007

The Four Essential Freedoms of Free (“Libre”) Software

A program is free software if the program’s users have the four essential freedoms:

  • The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Source: What is free software?

Moreover, I emphasize the word “libre” when referring to free software because in the English language “free” has two meanings: (1) not under the control of infringement of another with liberty to act, and (2) without charge or monetary compensation (aka. “gratis”). Thus free software is based upon personal liberty of the user to run the program as she wishes.

In the world of liberty activism it is far superior to use free, open source software for all Internet purposes. The obvious reason is because there will be no threat of censorship or termination of the online content because it is entirely under the control of the creator. To sum up why I am pairing open source with making your own personal website, this is why.

18th Century house from Colonial America with US flag.
18th Century colonial house with US flag.

Taking Back Our Voices Through Privately Owned Open Source Sites

We of the liberty movement have the right to speak our minds and exercise free speech. Regardless of social media or search engine censorship we still have enormous power to turn the tables of public sentiment by growing our movement and extending our reach online.

CEO (search engine optimization) is a skill that when learned has the power to cause websites to rank highly in search, resulting in high traffic volume to the website. If we rally together and consistently publish content that supports our values, eventually our message will become mainstream on the Internet. We can overcome the voices that are trying to restrict our sentiment.

The main problem I see is that conservatives and libertarians are complaining that the tech giants own all the social media engagement platforms, and that our efforts our hopeless. This is false. If our movement of advocates who support the United State’s founding ideologies will just educate themselves and become proficient in the technologies of open source web development and SEO, the tide will turn in our favor.

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About Christopher Nawojczyk

Christopher Nawojczyk is a statesman of U.S. constitutional law and a liberty advocate for the principles and ideologies of the early American founding. He served in the US Marine Corps for six years as both enlisted and commissioned officer. Chris seeks to earn his JD to further promote the ideals of Liberty and Self-Governance for all American people.

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